Road Trip - Community Shares and Cares

Submitted by Paul Born on January 17, 2011 - 12:08pm
Blog 7 - Truly Inspired
Emmanuel Hammond will be executed this month by the state of Georgia.

Emmanuel Hammond will be executed January 25th, 2011
by the state of Georgia

Robbie at Jubilee

Robbie has been living at Jubilee for 30 years. He has visited Emmanuel for 15 of those

Welcome sign at Jubilee

Welcome sign at Jubilee

The communal clothes line at Jubilee

The communal clothes line at Jubilee

Even the donkeys take care of the goats at Jubilee

Even the donkeys take care of the goats at Jubilee

Ekor a refugee from Burma is visiting with Will. He is building a fence around a community garden that will be used by refugees.

Ekor a refugee from Burma is visiting with Will. He is building a fence around a community garden that will be used by refugees

January 15, 2011. At noon today, during the prayer and announcements just prior to lunch, Robbie announced that Emmanuel Hammond received the date of his death sentence, January 25th, 2011. The room fell silent as the community recognized the significance of this moment. Robbie has been visiting Emmanuel monthly for the past 15 years.

Jubilee partners have a long tradition of visiting people on death row. When Emmanuel is executed the partners will host a vigil in downtown Athens. Robbie will most likely hold vigil with people from Open door,  a sister community from Atlanta.

The rhythm of this place provides an environment for caring. I liken it to yeast. When it sits dormant in a jar it is passive. Place it in warm water with a bit of sugar and it becomes active. Add it to flour and some more water and it becomes the central ingredient for bread. In the same way Jubilee seems to take that dormant spark of altruism that sits inside people and turn it into something even more valuable. Partners, those members who have made a life commitment here, might be likened to the starter for sourdough bread, as witnessing their lives becomes an inspiration to those who volunteer or apprentice here. That inspiration is then activated through real life engagement in social issues. Robbie says, "At Jubilee we make it easy to do the right thing."

After just three days here I feel refreshed, renewed, and even restored. Positive energy spreads easily here and the desire to do good for the world is infectious. I will be back, not only to visit, but as both a volunteer and a citizen of the world that needs to heal and be healed.

Jubilee facts:

  • There are 12 long-term partners.
  • There are 13 volunteers, mainly young people, here on 4 month terms.
  • More volunteers apply than they can accept. Dylan Siebert is one of these, a Conrad Grebel College student and from my hometown of Waterloo.
  • There are two apprentices. These are people who  make a one year commitment  to live here in community.  These people usually want to become novices (the path to becoming a partner) or want to apprentice in community living generally. I spent several hours talking with a woman, Kaia,  here who has made this type of commitment.
  • About 35 people show up for meals at lunch and dinner. - On Friday night, Will and I cooked everyone an Indian dinner with blueberry crumble for dessert.
  • They are a faith community, yes, but their faith is expressed by acting for social justice

As a social justice community their work is:

a) To live simply: There is a farm with animals and a large garden, 20 buildings, cars, and machinery that all needs to be cared for. They shop at the Food Bank first, everyone gets the same wage ($15 a week), meals are simple, there's no television, and the pace of life is such that their ecological footprint is small.

b) To support refugees: There are seven houses for refugees, they teach nine English classes a week, they take refugees shopping, to health appointments, and provide general support for three months before     the refugees settle in Atlanta. Jubilee receives donations to do this work from 'friends.' They accept no government funds.

c) To visit people on death row: Various members visit people on death row. In this work, they partner with a group in Atlanta called Open Door.

d) To live in community. They are deliberate about communal life. They make joint decisions, live in common, share responsibilities, care for one another and share their vision. In addition to companionship, they take turns cooking and cleaning, and pray and sing and study together. (I will reflect more on their community life another time).

e) To be a witness to peace. It is not just that this group believes in a world without war; they actively live a life of peace. Their way of living inspires people around the world and more than 1,000 people come to visit every year.

What strikes me most about Jubilee is how productive this place is. How much good gets done everyday. Life here has clear focus. I would sum it up as: 'Take care of this place. Take care of each other. Take care of this world.' There is little distraction from this motto.

Questions arising:

  • How do I get back for a longer visit?
  • Could I live like this?
  • Are there places like this in Canada?
  • Why have I not come to visit here before?
  • Is this an alternative way for us to live in the world? What can we learn from this for the everyday lives of ordinary people doing everyday ordinary things?